The Monarchy In Britain
A brief guide
What Is the Monarchy?
According to newspaper reports in 2006 Vitorio Emanuele, son of Italy's last "king", has been recorded admitting to murder. Mr. Emanuele is said to have told a cell mate that he shot a 19-year old in 1978. A French court in 1991 acquitted him of unintentional homicide. In the recording he says that he "conned those French judges" and described the magistrates investigating him now as "penniless, envious turds".
The man who might have inherited the throne in Italy was under house arrest on suspicion of recruiting prostitutes from eastern Europe and corrupt business deals involving gambling. In another recording he asked a business associate to "give a good slapping" to a prostitute.
In a monarchy the head of state, the nation's representative-in-chief, inherits that position from her or his parents and is entitled to hold it until death. The people have no say in who should represent them.
Supporters of monarchy at one time based the monarch's claim to power on "divine right." They said that the privilege was given by God. The increasing power of the middle class and the development of democratic ideas brought about a gradual reduction in royal power.
In Britain we now have a "constitutional monarchy" in which the monarch acknowledges the rights of the legislature and the executive branch of government. The Windsor family have put about the idea that they will "go quietly" when the British people ask. However, members have also been reported as believing that their family does have a unique right to their status, rather than it being a matter of chance. They act as if determined to hold on to their hereditary privileges.
There are 45 countries besides Britain that still have a monarchy. Sixteen of them, all members of the Commonwealth, have Britain's queen Windsor as head of state. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
Other countries which still have monarchies include the Netherlands, Morocco, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Denmark and Belgium. Liechtenstein has an absolute monarch by the name of Hans-Adam. In 1999 he was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have suppressed freedom of expression in his principality.
Britain's head of state is known as the queen if a woman and the king if a man. Only members of the Windsor family are eligible to be head of state.
The British people have never had the chance to vote for or against a monarchy. Unlike countries which have a written constitution, much of our system of government has been inherited from an undemocratic past. Although Parliament might vote to abolish the monarchy, under the Treason Felony Act 1848 it is treason if "any person whatsoever, within the United Kingdom or without devise or intend to deprive our most gracious Lady the Queen from the style, honour or Royal Name of the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom." Many monarchists argue that advocating republican democracy is therefore seditious and illegal.
Jubilee: Desperate Measures, Desperate Defences
A death in the family
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